Types of Tangueros: The Good, the Bad, and a myriad of Jerks

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Ampster, Nov 1, 2007.

  1. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    And may I add that I don't want to come off as a constant whiner, though it does feel good to vent on here :p. There are some wonderful leaders out there and I want to say thanks to those who dance with me. I know a couple of them who fall in that Patient Mentor category and then some.

    One of them, especially, is such a joy. I met him at a milonga last month. His lead felt absolutely effortless and I was able to follow nearly everything. He had great musicality too, and really worked those pauses. And he kept complimenting me and saying how much he enjoyed dancing with me. I believed him because he didn't just do one "charity dance" with me, he asked me many times. What a delight! I hope I see him at the next milonga this weekend. :)
     
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    "If I avoid milongas, how can I improve?"
    The Practica is there specifically to provide an opportunity to practice. Take advantage of any opportunity before or after class for instance, to get in some practice time. Obviously, if there is not a practica for you to go to, you have to go to milongas.

    "Or should I only dance with follows or instructors from my class?"
    At one time Alex Krebs would talk about groups of new students as being in the same "pod" (reference to groups of whales). But you want to branch out, too.

    "I have attended one milonga and I thought I did alright but after reading this, I'm wondering if I was boring / frustrating the daylights out of the more experienced follows. I did tell them I was a beginner when I asked them to dance though."

    Keep in mind too, that there are people in your community that will derive satisfaction from watching you get better. First you have to find them. Me, I made sure I didn't over stay my welcome, and I think it worked out for both of us.
    Remember that the etiquette of the milonga practically requires you and your partner to dance an entire tanda, usually 3-4 songs. You could ask people to dance "one or two" with you. Always watch your partner to see how they are reacting to your partnership. You could even ask them if they want to continue, after the first song. Or say something like, "Would you like to take a break?"
    Or, you could wait until one, two or three songs have been played in the tanda, then ask. Your partner will only be "obligated" to dance with you until the cortina.
    (BTW, I think the tanda system is one reason beginners feel that more experienced dancers aren't welcoming.)
    Personally, I lean towards more communication, rather than less. So go ahead and tell prospective partners that you are a beginner. If you keep working on it, somewhere along the line, you will start hearing things like, "I thought you said you were a beginner". And that's going to feel pretty good.
     
  3. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    And you know what, much of my learning - after the first few months in a class, that is - took (takes) place at home. In the kitchen. Alone. With the music playing loudly from the lounge and tons of creatiev mental visualiation :razz:
     
  4. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Hmm. The question was phrased tactlessly, but it's quite possible that the intentions were good. When I ask a lady I haven't met or seen dance before for a dance, I sometimes ask (after we have started dancing) an innocent-sounding question like, "So, how long have you been dancing?" What I'm trying to do is ascertain her approximate experience level so that I know how to arrange the dance and what I can and can't lead with her. Sometimes I can tell (if her frame is all awkward and she moves her hips in weird ways as she steps, then she's probably a beginner), but not always.

    If I try to dance over her head, she's going to get frustrated at not being able to follow, and chances are either she'll get angry at me or she'll get down on herself. Either way, it doesn't make for a good dance for either of us. If I guess wrong in the other direction, then she's probably going to get bored, and may feel that I've insulted her by implying that she is a poor dancer. If I ask a question gently, then I have a much better chance of avoiding these improprieties.

    So if ask the question, gently and with tact, and my partner takes that as an offense, then I'm stuck. I'm unlikely to give her a pleasing dance no matter what I do.
     
  5. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    cornutt, I was talking to my (former) teacher about this situation and asked him how he handles it. He says he never verbally asks the lady how many lessons she has had. He just starts dancing with her, and begins with doing very simple steps. If she is able to follow that well, then he can try other steps. If not, he just sticks to basics.

    That seems like the best approach to me. You really have to dance with the person to gauge their abilities. The other thing you could do is to observe. When you take a rest and sit out, you can watch the ladies and get a better idea of their skills. Also you could engage a lady in casual conversation about your respective dance backgrounds, but only while off the dance floor. Personally I find that it makes me tense up when someone starts out a dance by quizzing me.
     
  6. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Well, that's all well and good until I get to a step she doesn't know. At least half the time, that blows the deal.
     
  7. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Yes, and that's going to happen. You could have a lady read through a checklist of steps before you dance with her, and have her tick off the ones she knows. But even that wouldn't guarantee anything. People make mistakes. It could be her, it could be you, it could be both of you. Just laugh it off and go on. It really doesn't matter if your dancing is perfect. The important thing is to connect with your partner and have fun.
     
  8. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I tend to agree with you, though if I am leading I will often do the start with the simple steps first method. As a follower, I sometimes (VERY nicely) will ask someone how long they have been dancing when I dance with them, even when I have watched them dance with others before I get a chance to dance with them. It doesn't always follow that a person with lots of years of experience will have excellent skills, nor someone who has been dancing only a short while have terrible ones. But sometimes it helps me to know how we might "mesh". I won't ask this kind of question if the person is stand-offish or seems like they might be easily offended (in fact- I stay away from dancing with people like that in general. I like my partners friendly- thank you.)

    Given that- I would suppose it would have to depend on the person and your best guess at how they react to it whether to ask. I'd hate to think it should be a verboten topic- it could turn in to a fun conversation! (And that's usually how it goes for me..we start talking about workshops and favorite teachers.) Seems like it could turn out as a damned of you do or don't situation in either case...if you don't ask...you might not try some things you might if you otherwise know someone's experience...if you do ask and they are offended...well...
     
  9. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    exactly bastet...of course it's great to have a pleasant, friendly conversation sharing knowledge about workshops and teachers. Nothing verboten about that.

    That's a far cry from asking someone to dance and then saying "how many lessons have you had?" (using exactly those words.) I've noticed that the people who say that are always the ones in the "wannabe teacher jerk" category who then proceed to lecture me on how I am doing everything wrong. The nice people, if they want to get a sense of someone's dancing level, will say things like "so, I haven't seen you at this milonga before. Have you been dancing long?"
     
  10. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Oh, hell. I'm sure I must have offended plenty of leads. Asking how long someone has been dancing is a rather frequent question of mine. A) I'm not good at small talk, and B) I'm usually very curious. Not because it's necessarily tied to ability (I've gotten responses that have been way far off from what I'd have guessed--in both directions.), but because I'm just genuinely curious.

    Meh. If someone's going to take offence...well...not much I can do about it.
     
  11. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    This is as I do it as well. It is very usual, at least in AT, to dance more than once with the same partner. This will allow much time for more intricate level movements, if necessary. I make a point to remember that some of the best dances are the ones danced in simple, basic bliss.
     
  12. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    A chap who a fortnight ago on a flying visit from Australia dropped into our milonga. I watched him from a distance seated by himself and studying the floor. I approached and asked him to lead me in a dance. During the first half of the first track his steps were quite simple (musicality however, beyond par). By the end we had performed a strenuous, sweaty 20 or so minute session akin to show-tango. He watched and guaged. He danced and guaged, without having to resort to questioning my CV. If a man asks a woman of her level he has then the responsibility to not exhibit disappointment if he receives the reply he wasn't expecting or more walk off in search of a better follower. Don't ask the question. Just watch and guage. Dance and guage.
     
  13. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Exactly..and I should add that it's only okay to walk off if you are not already on the dance floor. I don't think it's right to bring someone onto the floor, then ask them about their dance background, and then proceed to dance with them while acting frustrated. I have had leaders do this to me.
     
  14. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    It is NEVER okay to walk off and leave the follower (or leader) stranded - seated or standing. They should only walk off at the end of the track after dancing (and yes, even if it is only the one track that their milonga reputation will allow). There is a reason why one's date of birth or race is no longer required to be added on a CV. It prevents us from passing down judgment on another like some God of the Torah. And like one poster mentioned, the years put in does not necessarily make for a good dancer. This I have seen, followed and led.
     
  15. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    To clarify, I agree. I wasn't advocating that it's okay to approach someone who is seated, ask them to dance, inquire as to their background, then walk away if you don't like the answer. That's not cool. I only meant that if you are casually talking to someone when you are way off the dance floor (like at the bar) you could engage them in a conversation about their dance experience without feeling obligated to dance with them.
     
  16. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    I know what you meant and my response wasn't directly aimed at you (you've been the recipient of such behaviour and so of course wouldn't be advocating it). I copied your post to my response only to drive home my message to others who do this and those who think it would be okay if they were to.

    Perhaps this shoud be a thread in itself: There are many wonderful female leaders on the London circuit and I am yet to witness or hear any bad word said against them. I always study a fellow female lead when they are dancing and they are always so gentle and caring towards their follower and willing to dance with any level. I have sent beginners to dance with them and they are always so accommodating.

    I would be interested to hear of any followers who have had a bad experience with a female lead.
     
  17. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Understood.

    And it occurs to me that perhaps another category should be added for types of tangueros/tangueras: The Clique Monster. This person only dances with people in their clique. They won't acknowledge you if you're new and not in their group - no matter how good a dancer you are.

    I thought of that one after attending a milonga last night and having a conversation with another lady there. She is a very good dancer, several years' experience, way better than I am, and she is very nice and likable. Yet she told me that there are certain other milongas where she has sat there all evening and no one asks her. She says this has happened to other ladies as well.

    I've seen this myself. At least if I don't get asked, I chalk it up to being a beginner and lacking skills. But it's disheartening to think that I could invest time and money on improving myself and still spend that much time sitting out.
     
  18. jhpark

    jhpark Member

    another sad fact: most people only have a handful of partners they really like to dance with. i mean, the top tier, dancing is heaven, she follows everything i even think of leading (or he leads me so well i just do things without knowing what the hell is happening). even beginners. even great dancers.

    when you're a beginner you have the false hope of thinking that as you improve, you will be able to dance with a wider variety of people. that's true. but you'll also really enjoy it less. you'll notice little things, like the way so and so presses into your back with his hand, or so and so always knocks you off axis during a certain molinete, or....

    fortunately, there are other obsessions in life than dance :)
     
  19. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Um, jh, I already notice those things, even as a beginner. It doesn't seem that hard to spot each leader's quirks. I try to remember them so I can adjust my following to it. We all have imperfections in our dancing and it doesn't lessen my enjoyment unless it's a really bad problem.

    Anyway, my teacher has said many, many times that the goal should be the connection and feeling with your partner, which you can experience even if the dance is technically imperfect.
     
  20. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    The Clique Monster- I've seen this as well (and been the recipient of said behavior). It seems to be quite common in my own town, and is probably quite common elsewhere too. It's very disheartening.

    For me- I don't care who a person "groups" with, if they are a nice person and don't have a habit of manhandling, I'll give it a go.
     

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